Posted June 10, 2012 by Jerald Uy in Comics



Eman Casallos has lost count of the times he tried to join the roster of talents of Glasshouse Graphics, a Manila-based agency that scouts artists for American comic book publishers.

For five years, he worked on the same Batman script and was repeatedly rejected. The 29-year old Dynamite Entertainment artist admits he thought of giving up. “May time na gusto ko nang mag-give up, siguro hindi ito ‘yung career para sa akin (There was a time I wanted to give up and I told myself that maybe, this is not the career meant for me),” Casallos shares.

Casallos had the easy option of backing out and venturing into his other interests. As a communication arts graduate of De la Salle University in Dasmarinas, Cavite, he was the editor in chief of their college paper. He also worked as a designer for Chikka, an online instant messaging site.

“Pero naiisip ko naman na everytime naman na magsa-submit ako ng work, nakakakuha na ako ng magagandang comment. Naisip ko na, ‘bat pa ako gi-give up eh parang unti-unti eh mararating ko na, kaunti na lang. (But then I realize that I always get positive feedback in every submission. So I thought, ‘why should I give up now that I am gradually getting closer to my dream? I’m almost there.’)” Casallos says.

His efforts were all worth it. In 2008, he was finally hired and assigned initially to design trading cards and assist other artists in layouts, backgrounds and colors. While waiting for a break, he co-plotted a self-published comic “Sulat-Kamay (Handwritten)” in 2010.

In July 2011, he drew his first international comic book “Dream Police” written by American Virgin screenplay writer Jeff Seeman.


Dream Police. Art by Eman Casallos.

Casallos says his biggest break so far is “Vampirella Annual” released last November, where he drew the usually scantily clad bad girl in a motorcycle suit. “Special sa akin ang issue na iyon (That issue was special for me),” he says.

Currently, Casallos is providing the interior art for “Ninjettes,” a series about female ninjas set to replaced the ones killed in the Garth Ennis opus, “Jennifer Blood.”

“Mga dugo-dugo, mga bituka, mga nag-sesex na mga lalake, it has been a challenge sa bata kong career sa comics.(Blood, intestines and guys having sex– it has been a challenge in my young career in comics), Casallos says.

Casallos mostly relies on his imagination on drawing the gory scenes in Ninjettes instead of googling photo references which he says “nakakasuka (makes him vomit).” He did not have to watch gay porn though because there are already “filtered” photos of men having sex online.

Art by Eman Casallos.

The only downside of having a three-year exclusive contract with Dynamite Entertainment? His mom thinks he just draws to avoid doing the dishes. “She does not understand na kung may momentum sa pag-drawing, dapat tuloy-tuloy (She does not understand that an artist can’t be interrupted to wash dishes when he has the momentum to draw a page),” he says. But Casallos clarifies that his mother is very supportive of his pursuits in the comic book industry.

Filipino artists working for Dynamite Entertainment might look like underdogs in the Philippines relatively populated by artists working for Marvel and DC Comics. For Casallos though, it is only a matter of time Filipino comic book readers will notice them.

“Maliit lang yung fanbase ng Dynamite pero nakikita ko in a few years, manonotice siya. Siguro kung tuloy-tuloy na napropromote kami, siguro one day medyo mag-lelevel malapit sa Big Two, sa DC at Marvel artists. (Dynamite has a small fanbase here but I see that it will be noticed in a few years. If there would be more events that would continuously promote our works, we will one day level the playing field with fellow Filipino artists working for the Big Two, Marvel and DC Comics),” Casallos says. He cites a Dynamite Entertainment fans’ day initiated by comics retail store Comicxhub.com during Free Comic Book Day in Pasig City.

Sulat-Kamay. Filipino indie komiks drawn by Eman Casallos.

Asked for his advice to aspiring comic book artists, Casallos shares: “Huwag kayong madidishearten (Don’t be disheartened). Be persistent. Kung gusto ninyo talaga yun, pagtiyagaan ninyo. (If you really want this job, you have to be relentless).”

Jerald Uy